Theatre 502 has of late been invading local watering holes to deliver “pop-up” performances of their upcoming production of The Debate Over Courtney O’ Connell of Columbus Nebraska, or at least the first act. The idea of springing live theatre on unsuspecting patrons while they bend their elbows with a libation might seem a dicey proposition, but this lively script by Mat Clark lends itself to such an unorthodox presentation, as it depicts a public debate between two suitors for the hand of the title character that plays fast, funny and seemingly not in need of a second act. The scenario winds up with a meaningful audience participation that plays a role in determining the outcome and served to reinforce the immediacy of the presentation in the environs of Patrick O’ Shea’s. 

The whole enterprise serves to introduce the inaugural season of this new company, a unit comprised of several individuals of no small talent and reputation around town: Gil D. Reyes, Amy Attaway, Mike Brooks and Brian Owens. Between them they have worked with several of the most notable theatre companies in town, from Actor’s Theatre to Louisville Repertory Company, but perhaps the most important forebear is The Necessary Theatre Company, whose mission of staging forward-thinking contemporary plays seems to have been enthusiastically adopted by Theatre 502.
Judging by this preview, their first effort seems well-chosen to communicate these intentions, balancing a slightly unorthodox structure with adult humor that, among other things, satirizes the influence and fascination with reality television and how it encourages the abandonment of privacy, when, faced with a life-changing decision, the heroine of the piece is unable to choose her destiny without public feedback. Director Gil D. Reyes keeps the tone light and the pace brisk, eliciting sharp comic performances from a tight ensemble consisting of Zachary Burrell as the moderator, Eli Keel as the heartsick, rough-around-the-edges former lover, Eli Cash as the glib, highly-polished fiancé, and Leah Roberts as the title character. All four deliver focused work; focused but relaxed work that easily connects with the audience.
The high energy of the material on display in these previews makes the brief, two-night run of the full stage production at Land of Tomorrow a much sought-after ticket. Will the convivial society of the local pub and slightly guerilla nature of the previews be missed when the material gets its full reading in a more traditional venue? I guess you will have to see for yourself this Friday and Saturday.

The Debate Over Courtney O’ Connell of Columbus Nebraska

by Mat Smart

directed by Gil D. Reyes
September 8 and 9, 8pm Land of Tomorrow Gallery

Tickets are $15.
To reserve tickets in advance, email Be sure to check out our great membership deals!

Land of Tomorrow Gallery

The Land of Tomorrow (LOT) is a beautiful new gallery space at 3rd and Broadway in downtown Louisville. The space in located in the St. Francis Building, 233 W. Broadway. Check out their website for more information about the space.